Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Link to Tie Dyed Grate-ness?

The first time we went to tour the flouse with the realtor she said something about the family that owned it being musically oriented and that there was an upright piano onboard at one point.  Frankly, it kind of went in one ear and out the other.  Mostly, I was trying to figure out how the hell you would get a piano down the dock, through the front door, and how you would balance the ballast in order for the flouse to not be cattywampus.  Mind boggling, indeed.

Upon further investigation during our initial tour, we found a plaque and some cocktail napkins in the hull that said, "Poet's Barge".   Dom said he remembered sailing past the flouse in his early sailing days and vividly recalled the sign that called this home the "Poet's Barge."  By now, we are full blown into the buying process, but are also really curious about these artistic musicians and poets that have inhabited this home since the late 70s.  Our hope was we would win the bid to buy the flouse and as a bonus get to learn more about these folks.

Once we put a contract in for the purchase we learned that the family that owned the flouse is called Godchaux, and their son, Keith was a keyboardist for the Grateful Dead from 1971 to 1978.  Their other son Brian, who was the agent for his mother, is also an accomplished musician in the Bay Area.

Dom and I were never "Dead Heads" and really didn't know too much about the band.  That said, as we mentioned in our circle of friends there were some that instantly recognized the Godchaux name and asked if our new home was where the lost "house boat" tapes came from.  Huh?  It turns out that as Keith Godchaux was getting ready to join the Dead, Jerry gave him a box of tapes from their 1971 tour that he stored in his parent's home, in the bilge of the flouse.  Eventually, they were discovered by Brian and in 2005 were used in the Dick's Picks, Vol. 35 as became known in Dead lore as "the houseboat tapes."

I've already been a doing a ton of research on floating house communities and lifestyle, and now I've added learning about the Dead and the Godchaux family.  The thing that really strikes is me is the culture the Dead built with their fans.  I never knew about the tapers and how fans would follow them all over the place.  It seems to me like it was one big traveling jam-fest.  I almost wish I had paid more attention.

That said, this whole experience has been so amazing.  Finally finding a home in Alameda, one that is a tremendous balance for all the things that both Dom and I want in a dwelling, has been such an amazing gift.  Even just buying the house and finding out that accountants had owned it would have been cool, but learning about the creative mojo of the Godchaux family has been an amazing plus.

My only hope is that the musical Gods will find a way to patient with the new dwellers and their propensity towards punk rock ukelele tunes.   :)



Cap'n Sylvia Sharkbait said...

Fascinating! Who knows how many more interesting secrets the flouse holds? If walls could talk...

John Curley said...

Wow, just wow. Who knew? And who knew you had a blog about life on the water. I'll tell you how I found it the next time I see you ...